The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson


Science Fiction

The Incredible Shrinking Man The Incredible Shrinking ManRichard Burton Matheson; Tor Books 2001WorldCatAlthough he was over six feet tall when he married Lou, Scott Carey is now less than an inch tall and being chased by spiders. One day he realized he was getting shorter. After being checked he discovered he was not only shorter, but continuing to get shorter each day. He goes to doctors, then specialists. But the shrinking continues. By the time The Incredible Shrinking Man starts, Scott is less than an inch tall, trapped in his basement, and being chased by a black widow spider.

As he lives in the basement, he remembers his regression from when it started. His wife Louise understands as much as she can at first. His young daughter Beth cannot fathom what is going on. He has a new job and home, no health insurance, and only a small savings. He works while he can, but spends a lot of time at the doctors and getting testing. He has to keep changing his wardrobe, going to smaller sizes. His relationships become affected as he gets smaller.

I can’t say much more about Richard Matheson’s story line. It’s easy enough to understand. Consider all of the implications – not not physically but also mentally and socially. How do you explain to a five-year-old that her father is still her father even if he’s shorter than her? How can his wife appreciate his sexual urges if he looks like a 12-year-old? How can he keep teen age boys from stealing his wallet when he’s no bigger or stronger than an 8-year old? The doctors are having a great time trying to figure out what happened to him – but with no results. He gets tired of being a lab rat.

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a wonderful examination of self reflection and how we live our lives. Scott goes through all the emotions – from disbelief, despair, exhilaration, depression, victory, exultation, anger, horror and more – over and over again. By his last few days – he knows the day he will disappear by his shrinkage rage – he goes through them all again until he finally reaches acceptance.

Yes, Richard Matheson has written a science fiction novel. The Incredible Shrinking Man is also a novel that examines all a human can be. At times it gets a bit hokey, but it rarely shows its age (written in the 1950’s) except for bits and pieces of historical fact. This is classic science fiction.

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